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Family Foot & Ankle

Exercise and Physical Therapy for Feet and Ankles

Everybody knows regular exercise is an important component of living a healthy life. True, it’s not always easy to find the motivation to put that into practice—even those who are already very active would likely agree—but it’s common knowledge that stretching, exercise, and physical therapy routines can help you stay fit, build strength and flexibility, reduce pain, prevent disease, and recover or rehab injuries.

One thing you might not know is that exercise and physical therapy is important for your feet and ankles, too! Most people think arms, legs, and core when planning out a routine, but don’t forget your feet—they are your body’s foundation.

Physical Therapy to Reduce Pain and Prevent Injury

Physical Therapy to Reduce Pain

Stretching and exercise is often recommended for a wide range of conditions as both a treatment modality (say, to reduce pain from plantar fasciitis or hammertoes) and also as a way to prevent injuries or stop deformities from getting worse.

For example, for those with flat feet or tight calf muscles, regularly stretching your Achilles tendons can help minimize discomfort and reduce your risk for developing issues such as heel pain or tendinitis, while rolling a golf ball or frozen water bottle under your feet can relieve foot cramps and arch pain. Learning to grip towels or marbles with your toes, meanwhile, can strengthen toe muscles and help slow the progression of a hammertoe.

It’s important to recognize that there’s no such thing as an “isolated” issue. Your entire body is interconnected, and a problem with a muscle, tendon, or joint in one part of the body can lead to distress elsewhere. A weak ankle, for example, can throw off alignment all the way up your spine, leading to problems with your knees, hips, back, and more. That’s why it’s so important to maintain strength and flexibility in your feet through regular exercise and physical therapy.

Physical Therapy as a Way to Rehab an Injury

Recovery and rehab from an injury or surgery is probably the most important application of physical therapy for feet and ankles. The truth is, an operation (say a bunion removal or ruptured tendon repair) is only half the battle, and the efforts of even the most skilled surgeon can only go so far if the patient is not disciplined in his or her rehab efforts.

When rehabbing after surgery, it’s critical to follow your surgeon’s instructions and stick closely to a plan. Physical therapy in this context requires a delicate balancing act—doing too much, too soon can overstrain or overextend your muscles and tendons, interfering the healing process (or even causing a re-injury). Our experts will make sure you know just how much to do, and when, so you can rehab safely and effectively. If necessary, we’ll refer you to a good physical therapist or occupational therapist who can help you even further.

Don’t forget exercise for those feet and ankles! It’s easy to overlook, but it makes a big difference. For more tips on foot and ankle care, check out our weekly blog, and if you have any concerns at all regarding the health of your lower limbs, give us a call at 888-689-3317. We have six offices in and around Cincinnati to serve you.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.